MHR Broncos History Lesson: Eleven Seconds

     Josh McDaniels is standing on the cusp of his second season as Denver's head coach.  Some fans are looking forward to this second year with great anticipation, while others are eying it with more than a little trepidation.  This is not the first time that Denver fans have been in this position.  McDaniels is the twelfth head coach in Denver history.  Eleven times, Broncos' fans have had to deal with the uncertainty of coaches who were just starting out.  Since we are preparing ourselves for the second year of Josh McDaniels' tenure, I thought it might be fun to take a short stroll down memory lane and look at how the other eleven Denver coaches fared in their second year at the helm.

Let's take the plunge.

I'd like to start this off with one, very clearly stated, disclaimer:

This article is in no way attempting to predict how McDaniels will fare in his second year.  Nor is it an attempt to suggest that since a past coach, coaches, succeeded or failed that we should believe McDaniels will succeed or fail.

This is merely taking a look back into Broncos history.  Now, on to the other eleven head coaches.

1)Frank Filchock (1960-62) - Second Season 1961

     Filchock's second season came in the second season of Broncos existence.  He followed up a disappointing inaugural season by leading Denver to a 3-11-0 record.  The Broncos finished 3rd in the AFL's Western Division (one game ahead of the 2-12 Oakland Raiders).  His offense scored 251 points (7th out of 8 AFL teams in both points and yards), while his defense gave up 432 (7th in points, 6th in yards). 

     The three wins came against the Buffalo Bills, the Oakland Raiders, and the New York Titans (now known as the New York Jets).  The eleven losses were to the Boston Patriots twice, the Houston Oilers twice, the San Diego Chargers twice, the Dallas Texans (now know as the Kansas City Chiefs) twice, New York, Oakland and Buffalo.

     Filchock's leading passer was Frank Tripucka (1690 yards, 10 TDs, 21 INTS).  His leading rusher was Donnie Stone (505 yards, 4 TDs), and his leading receiver was Lionel Taylor (1176 yards, 4 TDs).

2)Jack Faulkner (1962-64; only 4 games in 1964) - Second Season 1963

     Faulkner's second season was the 4th in Broncos' history.  There were some high hopes after Faulker replaced Filchock (7-20-1) by going 7-7-0 in his first year.  His second season, however, ended with the Broncos holding a disappointing 2-11-1 record.  Denver was in the cellar of the AFL's Western Division.  Faulkner's offense scored 301 points (7th in both points and yards), and his defense allowed 473 points (8th in points/7th in yards).

     The Faulkner led Broncos managed wins only against Boston and San Diego, and a tie with New York.  The losses included double losses to Kansas City, Houston, Buffalo and Oakland, along with losses to Boston, San Diego and New York.

     Faulkner's leading passer was Mickey Slaughter (1689 yards, 12 TDs, 15 INTs).  His leading rusher was Billy Joe (646 yards, 4 TDs).  His leading receiver was Lionel Taylor (1101 yards, 10 TDs).

3)Mac Speedie (1964-66; only 10 games in '64 and 2 in '66) - Second Season 1965

     Speedie's second season was Denver's sixth.  This season was a step up after consecutive 2-11-1 seasons, when the Broncos finished 4-10 under Speedie's leadership.  However, despite the improvement, the Broncos still finished last in their division.  The team score 303 points (4th in points/2nd in yards), but unfortunately the defense surrendered 392 (7th in points/7th in yards). 

     The four wins included two wins against Houston along with defeats of Boston and New York.  The losses included losing twice to San Diego, Buffalo, Kansas City and Oakland, and single losses to Boston and New York.

     The leading passer for Speedie was John McCormick (1292 yards, 7 TDs, 14 INTs).  His leading rusher was Cookie Gilchrist (954 yards, 6 TDs).  His leading receiver was Lionel Taylor (1131 yards, 6 TDs).

4)Ray Malavasi (1966; 12 games)

     After the Broncos started out 0-2 in 1966, Mac Speedie was replaced by Ray Malavasi.  The Malavasi-led Broncos went 4-8 to finish the season at 4-10.  Malavasi did not have a second season as Denver's head coach.

5)Lou Saban (1967-1971; 9 games in '71) - Second Season 1968

     Saban's second season came in Denver's 9th year, and gave the Broncos their second best finish in team history at 5-9-0.  Unfortunately, they still finished 4th in the AFL's Western Division, but they did finish two games ahead the expansion team, Cincinnati Bengals.  The Broncos amassed 255 points that season (7th out of 10 in both points and yards) while the defense gave up 404 points (9th in points/10th in yards).

     Two of the five Saban-led wins came against expansion teams (Cincinnati and the Miami Dolphins).  The other 3 wins were against New York, Boston and Buffalo.   Once again, the Broncos lost twice to Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego.  The final three losses were to Cincinnati, Boston and Houston.

     Saban's leading passer was Marlin Briscoe (1589 yards, 14 TDs, 13 INTs).  His leading rusher was Floyd Little (584 yards, 3 TDs).  His leading receiver was Eric Crabtree (601 yards, 5 TDs).

6)Jerry Smith (1971; 5 games)

     After the Broncos started the 1971 season with a 2-6-1 record, Saban was replaced by Jerry Smith.  Smith led the team to a 2-3 record to close out the season.  He did not have a second season as Denver's head coach.

7)John Ralston (1972-76) - Second Season 1973

     The Broncos' 14th season was Ralston's second as head coach.  It was the 4th year after the AFL/NFL merger.  It holds the distinction of being Denver's first ever winning season (7-5-2).  Denver finished tied with Kansas City for 2nd in the AFC West, behind Oakland and ahead of San Diego.  This season marked only the 2nd time in club history that the offense scored more points (354 - 3rd in points/6th in yards) than the defense gave up (296 - 15th in points/19th in yards).

     The Broncos' wins included two against San Diego to go along with defeats of Cincinnati, Houston, the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kansas City.  The five losses were to the NFC's San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys, along with losses to Kansas City and Oakland.  Denver tied both Oakland and the NFC's St. Louis Cardinals.

     Ralston's leading passer was Charley Johnson (2465 yards, 20 TDs, 17 INTs).  His leading rusher was Floyd Little (979 yards, 12 TDs).  His leading receiver was Riley Odoms (629 yards, 7 TDs).

     Ralston was named the UPI AFC Coach of the Year.

8)Red Miller (1977-80) - Second Season 1978

     Red Miller served his second season in the 19th year of Denver's existence.  He was following up on a 12-2 rookie season that had a 27-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII.  His second year was not quite as strong, finishing 10-6 and 1st in the AFC West.  Denver made it's second consecutive appearance in the post season.  The Broncos lost 33-10 to Pittsburgh in the Divisional round of the playoffs.  Miller's Broncos scored 282 points (15th in points/14th in yards) while the defense held opponents to 198 points (2nd in points/6th in yards).

     The Broncos beat Oakland, Kansas City and the Seattle Seahawks twice to go along with wins over San Diego, Chicago, the Cleveland Browns, and the Green Bay Packers.  The six losses were to the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego, the Baltimore Colts, the New York Jets, the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh.

     Miller's leading passer was Craig Morton (1802 yards, 11 TDs, 8 INTs).  His leading rusher was Lonnie Perrin (455 yards, 4 TDs).  His leading receiver was Riley Odoms (829 yards, 6 TDs).

9)Dan Reeves (1981-1992) - Second Season 1982

     Reeves had his second season as Denver's head coach in the Broncos' 23rd year, just in time for an NFL Players' strike.  A 57-day long strike by players forced the league to reduce the regular season schedule to just 9 games and to adopt a special 16-team playoff tournament format.  The Reeves-led Broncos finished the strike-shortened season at a disappointing 2-7-0.

     The only Denver wins that season were against San Francisco and the Los Angeles Rams.  Those wins went along with losses to San Diego (twice), Seattle (twice), the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City, and the Los Angeles Raiders (the NFL had lost a lawsuit prior to the season and were forced by court order to allow the Raiders to play in Los Angeles).

     Reeves leading passer was Steve DeBerg (1405 yards, 7 TDs, 11 INTs).  His leading rusher was Gerald Willhite (347 yards, 2 TDs).  His leading receiver was Steve Watson (555 yards, 2 TDs).

10)Wade Phillips (1993-94) - Second Season 1994

     Phillips' second season came in Denver's 35th year.  His second season, at 7-9, was not as successful as his first (9-7 with a post season appearance).  The Broncos finished 4th in the AFC West.  Offensively Denver finished 10th in points (373) and 6th in yards.  Defensively, the Broncos were 25th in points (284) and 28th in yards.

     Phillips' Broncos defeated Seattle twice, along with wins over San Diego, Cleveland, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Kansas City.  The losses came versus San Diego, the New York Jets, the LA Raiders (twice), Buffalo, Kansas City, the LA Rams, San Francisco and New Orleans.

     Phillips' leading passer was John Elway (3490 yards, 16 TDs, 10 INTs).  His leading rusher was Leonard Russell (620 yards, 9 TDs).  His leading receiver was Anthony Miller (1107 yards, 5 TDs).

11)Mike Shanahan (1995-2008) - Second Season 1996

     Shanahan served his second season as Denver's head coach in the Broncos' 37th year.  The Broncos raced out to a 7-1 start in the 1st half of the season, and never looked back on their way to finishing 13-3 and 1st in the AFC West.  High hopes and expectations for the post season were brought crashing down when the Jacksonville Jaguars (in only their 2nd season in existence) upset the Broncos 30-27 in a Divisional round game played at Mile High Stadium.  Shanahan's Broncos were 4th in points (391) and 1st in yards offensively, while his defense was 7th in points (275) and 4th in yards.

     Denver's wins were over: the Jets, Seattle (twice), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati, San Diego, the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City, Oakland (twice), Chicago, Minnesota and the New England Patriots.  The Broncos only losses came at the hands of Kansas City, Green Bay and San Diego.

     Shanahan's leading passer was John Elway (3326 yards, 26 TDs, 14 INTs).  His leading rusher was Terrell Davis (1538 yards, 13 TDs).  His leading receiver was Shannon Sharpe (1062 yards, 10 TDs).  Shanahan had 8 players voted to the Pro Bowl (Elway, Davis, Sharpe, Gary Zimmerman, Alfred Williams, Michael Perry, Bill Romanowski, Steve Atwater and Tyrone Braxton).  Terrell Davis was voted both AP Offensive Player of the Year and UPI AFL-AFC Offensive MVP.  Davis also set a franchise record for most carries (345) and touchdowns (13) in a season, as well as being the fastest Bronco running back to reach 1000 yards.

12)Josh McDaniels (2009-???)

     These snapshots from the Broncos' past give us a glimpse of what a rich and varied history our beloved team has passed through. It is a living history -- one that is still being written today as we anxiously, excitedly await the start to our newest head coach's second season.

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